Spotlight on Quirk and Rescue
Today's Spotlight is on the fabulously colourful Ms Pink and Mr Black, a East London design duo known as Quirk and Rescue. Quirk and Rescue sell wallpaper, cushions, prints, hand painted furniture and fabrics based on elements as diverse as typography, music and 19th century optical illusions through their website here.
You can also commission the design duo to do bespoke work.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
Necessity is the mother of invention! We love colour and pattern and couldn’t find what we were after for our own home, so decided to make our own cushions which led to other products, tea towels, screen prints, wallpaper and fabric.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
We started at the kitchen table and are still at the kitchen table! We only hold a small amount of stock so its still doable working from home. The digital nature of design with a small business makes us incredibly flexible, we only work with UK manufacturers who provide short turn around times.
3. How did you fund your business?
We started with a collection of six cushions whilst we were both working full time. We showed this collection at Top Drawer and were lucky enough to be stocked by Amara a few months after we started. We’re incredibly thorough in our research, so we always make sure that we get the best quality for the best price.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
I think the most difficult thing with starting a business is getting known for what you do. You can have a fantastic product but if no one knows about it then it's a waste of time. We’ve found other creatives to be very willing and helpful with giving advice and exchanging information on manufacturers. Also, think about your brand image very carefully. Finally, do your research on trade shows! Only do ones that are appropriate to you!
5. What help was missing for you?
I think theres a lot of help available, it’s just knowing where to look. The British Library has a Business and IP centre which runs a lot of useful workshops for start ups. I think it’s a case of learning as you grow, some things can only be learned through experience, but always prepare to be adaptable until you have found your niche.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
Erm, luckily we haven’t had anything go too wrong *touch wood*
7. What have you learnt?
Authenticity is everything.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Research your market carefully. Research your manufacturers carefully. Learn how to calculate pricing.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
Seeing our products in other peoples homes and knowing that we’ve made the world that little bit more colourful.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
Most of the time it’s a 2 or 3, but there are times like trade shows, or when we are developing a new design and deciding on colours that it goes up to 10!
But that’s probably because we are perfectionists, if we wouldn’t want our work in our own home, why would anyone else?
Nicola says "so often small creative businesses start with a need that someone has, you can't find what you are looking for anywhere else and so decide to make it yourself and this is the case here too. Sensible decisions on market, manufacturers and how to grow the business have been made and that's really important as just because you have a need, doesn't mean everyone else does. Getting the word out about your product remains a huge challenge for small business, especially with some platforms changing their models rapidly. Just remember there are multiple ways to market your business and, time allowing, you should be using as many as you can."
The Girl with The Green Sofa